Beyond the stark deficiency of a contemporary and effective transportation system in the Philippines, placing us years behind our ASEAN counterparts, I find myself disheartened by the condition of the country’s public restrooms. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Philippine airports.

In the rapid world of international travel, airports stand as pivotal gateways shaping a nation’s identity. Amid the hustle and bustle of busy terminals and stringent security checks, there exists an often-overlooked yet crucial space that only gains attention when necessity strikes – the comfort room. Beyond being a mere functional necessity, the cleanliness and upkeep of these facilities carry significant implications for a nation’s commitment to hygiene and civic pride.

While Japan is internationally renowned for its precision and attention to detail, it also sets a gold standard for restroom facilities in its airports. The lavatories are not merely clean; they boast advanced features like automated bidets and hands-free faucets. This meticulous commitment to cleanliness sends a powerful message to travelers: Japan places a high value on hygiene, and this dedication permeates every facet of the nation.

Reflecting on my training alongside fellow students from Congress at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, Japan, last October, we were taken aback when the training staff voiced concerns about trash and tissues being discarded in restroom bins. In contrast, in the Philippines, the directive is to dispose of tissues in the bin.

It appears that in some places in Japan, as well as in other locations with small trash bins, there are tissues specifically designed to be flushed down the toilet. Known as “flushable tissues” or “toilet paper for toilets,” these are engineered to disintegrate rapidly upon contact with water. Japanese sewage systems and toilets are designed to accommodate certain types of toilet paper that minimize the risk of clogs or blockages in plumbing and sewage systems.

Similarly, the restrooms at Hong Kong International Airport reflect the city’s efficiency and cleanliness.

This stands in stark contrast to Philippine airports, where restrooms may not receive the same level of attention. Take Zamboanga International Airport, for instance – more often than not, not a single roll of tissue paper can be found in the comfort rooms of the arrival area. Such instances of poorly maintained facilities cast a lasting negative impression on travelers, overshadowing the positive aspects of their journey.

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